Writing for CNN’s Schools of Thought blog, NFI's Christopher Brown and Vincent DiCaro reveal the missing piece of education reform. Brown and DiCaro point out that "There is no shortage of answers about how to improve our nation’s schools, including more charter schools, school vouchers, standardized testing, lower teacher-student ratios and performance-based hiring, pay and promotion of teachers. However, what we find lacking in almost every debate about education reform is the role of families - especially fathers - and the support they can and should provide to ensure children’s educational success. If parents, educators and reformers are to make a difference in improving children’s educational success, we must expand our definition of education reform."
They continue, "children in two-parent homes were more likely to stay on track in school and have higher literacy, both of which are critical to overall educational success."
Pointing to research on marriage from Pew Research Center saying barely one-half - 51% - of adults today are married, down from 72% in 1960, the article says, "The decline of marriage, the rise of divorce and the increase in out-of-wedlock births - now 40% of all births - has contributed to the reality that more than 24 million children in America live in homes absent a biological father."
Brown and DiCaro do not write only to complain, but to offer real solutions for educational improvement. They point out several real-life things fathers can do at home and in school to help their children succeed:
- Attend school and class events, or even spend a day in the classroom—your presence communicates something to your child and to their teachers.
- Read to your children every day.
- Help with school work.
- Don’t let mom do all the work.
- Including posters, reading materials and visual cues that show dads are welcome.
- Distribute parenting resources targeted to dads, as well as moms.
- Hold seminars for staff members to remind them how important it is for dads to be involved.
- Create dad-centric events, like “Dad and Donuts Day” where fathers join children at school for breakfast.
Brown and DiCaro do well to explain, "Changing parents’ and schools’ views of parental involvement are part of education reform. But most importantly, we must also address and reverse the two most disturbing trends of the past half-century - the increase in the number of children growing up in father-absent homes and the decline in marriage. These two issues are inseparable and have a direct impact on our children’s success in school."
Read the full article at CNN's Schools of Thought.
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